“That was fantastic!” His mother exclaimed as they walked out of the arena together. “I’m so proud of you.”

Jim smiled faintly. “Thanks.”

“I’m still pissed that they put you out there in the first place. What were they thinking?”

“That we were all they had, Mom. The majority of the fleet—”

“I read the report. And they lost a lot of promising young cadets too. It’s still run by a bunch of arrogant boys.”

“Mom.”

She sighed and reached to straighten his collar. “But a captain. And the Enterprise. That’s something else, isn’t it?”

“It sure is. It’s crazy, is what it is.” He grinned back at her. “I just hope I’m ready for all this.”

 “I have no doubt that you are. Let’s go have a celebratory dinner. Right? You deserve it. My treat.”

Jim could not deny he was pretty hungry and it was nice to think someone wanted to spend time with him. All his friends had dispersed to do their own thing, whatever that was, they’d all been given some time off, so yeah, Jim got it, and then of course, Spock, well…yeah.

“That sounds great. Thank you.”

And just then walking down the corridor from where they stood, Jim spotted the older Spock from Delta Vega.

“Hey, Mom, you know there’s someone I need to talk to, can I catch up with you later for dinner?”

“Sure. I want to check on Amanda and Sarek anyway. Meet at Giuseppe’s later.”

“Great. Thanks, Mom.” He waved at her and ran after the old Vulcan. “Spock! Hey. Spock.”

Ambassador Spock turned to face him. “Jim! What an unexpected surprise.”

Jim nodded, breathless, waiting a moment to catch his breath. He hadn’t been breathing totally right since Nero’s ship. “Are you all right? You know. After everything?”

“I am as well as I can be, Jim.” Spock searched Jim’s face. “You are quite peaked. I would like to inquire after your health as well.” His gaze dropped to Jim’s throat. “The Romulans?”

“Right. And I’m okay. Just really tired, mostly.”

“And it’s no wonder. Have you gotten any rest at all since returning?”

“Some,” Jim lied. “It’s been kind of hectic.”

“I imagine.” He touched Jim’s hand with his own before Jim had a chance to avoid it, which he would have, because Jim was well aware of the touch telepathy, and we have known Spock’s intent. Spock’s eyes narrowed. “Not just the Romulans caused those injuries.”

“Let it go.”

“Jim, when I spoke of getting me to show my emotional compromise, it was not my intention to put you in harm’s way or to interfere in your relationship with Spock.”

“It was nothing, really. Okay? He just flipped out a little. I went overboard with goading him talking about all the losses on Vulcan.”

Spock’s lips thinned. “Jim—”

He shook his head. “You’re not leaving, are you?”

“Tomorrow, yes. I will be leaving to help with establishing a colony for those of us that remain. But today? There is someone I must have a word with.”

“Did you want to have dinner with my mother and me?”

“I wish I had the time, honestly. I do not. Jim, do me a favor and make it an early dinner. I would like to see you get the rest you are so clearly lacking.”

“I’ll try,” Jim said vaguely.

“Where is Spock?”

Jim shrugged. “I don’t know, really. Last I saw him he was at HQ. Kind of out of it.”

“Then you have not talked?”

“A few words.” Jim straightened. “I should be going myself. I won’t keep you from whatever you need to do. Just…can I ask you one question?”

“Of course.”

“Where you come from, were we…you and I…were we…?”

“Yes, Jim. Admittedly far later than you and Spock. We did not meet at the Academy, let alone establish a relationship then.”

Jim frowned. “When?”

Spock smiled slightly. “I think that I have given you all the information I should.” He held up his hand in the ta’al.

“Nope.” Jim shook his head. “That’s not going to cut it, old man.” He pulled the old Vulcan close, embracing him. Then he stepped back. “It wasn’t your fault, you know that, don’t you?”

“I was the one who advised you to compromise—”

“No. Not that.  What Nero did. The loss of his planet in your time.  You tried to help them.”

“And failed. Quite miserably.”

“It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t cause the star to destruct. You were trying to help and it was too late. But that’s not on you. And none of what he did, not the Kelvin, not Vulcan, none of that is your fault, Spock. It’s all on Nero.”

“If you say so.” He held up his hand in the ta’al again. “Live long and prosper, Jim. Peace and long life, T’hy’la.”

“Hey. What’s that—?” But Ambassador Spock was walking quickly away. And out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Uhura. He hurried after her.

“Uhura.”

She stopped, turned, and looked at him. Her eyes were red rimmed and wet.

“What is it?”

“Gaila was on the Farragut, Kirk.  She didn’t make it.”

“God. I’m sorry.”

She hugged herself. “So many, you know? A bunch of my friends didn’t make it. If not for hearing that transmission, we wouldn’t have either.”

“But you did. You heard it.”

She nodded. “And you knew what it meant. I heard you got the Enterprise.”

“I did.”

“I’ll be on there too. Again.” She bit her lip. “What about Spock?”

Jim shook his head.

“Give him time. He’s really hurting.”

“I know. I am. It’s just…”

“What?”

“Pike told me he’s leaving Starfleet. I guess to be with the other Vulcans.” Jim blew out a breath. “I don’t know. He hasn’t told me anything. I guess that’s the answer to my question.”

“Question?”

“Whether the two of us are still together.”

Uhura frowned. “But…I mean, he’d tell you if you weren’t, right?”

“I don’t know. I think I hear him loud and clear.” He looked past her to the exit. “I need to go. I’m meeting my mom. And I’m sorry about Gaila. I really liked her.”

“Me too. Tomorrow some of us are getting together for a little memorial for those that died. Our fellow cadets. It’s at two in the Quad at the Academy if you want to come.” She paused. Smiled just a little. “Captain.”

“Yeah. I’ll be there. Thanks.”

He rubbed the tightness in his chest and headed for the exit, ready to meet his mom.